2 days ago, Alife General Manager Treis Hill announced on Instagram “After 20 years we are closing the shop and leaving the Lower East Side.”
I have to say, the news left me feeling sad and reminiscent. Alife was more than a New York shop, it was an international creative and cultural revolution.
I remember going to the first location on Orchard Street in 2004 where the original owners Rob Cristofaro, Arnaud Delecolle, Tony Arcabascio and Tammy Brainard birthed it. It wasn’t until the shop relocated to Rivington Street in The Lower East Side of Manhattan that it became the powerhouse it did.
Photo of the original Alife on Orchard Street via https://www.arnauddelecolle.com/
The Rivington location was two shops next door to each other and identical in size. The left side was Alife (apparel) and the right side was Alife Rivington Club (the sneaker shop). The entire interior design of the space was unlike anything “streetwear” or “sneakerhead”, it was chic, upscale and opulent. Standing inside those spaces, you felt special and not just because of its design. To have trekked that far east on the Lower East Side (pre-social media as we know it) to occupy the Alife space felt like you had followed a treasure map to find “One Eyed Willie’s” hidden fortune. *A “Goonies” Movie reference for anyone who doesn’t know.
Neatly tucked away in the back door of Alife Rivington Club was the infamous backyard. It held an even more dear place in our hearts as it was homebase for some of the most legendary parties/after parties of the most influential; Drake, John Mayer, Moby, Three 6 Mafia, King Krule and more. If you made it through the front door and could physically squeeze into the smoke-filled backyard, you felt like you had earned a badge of New York honor. I remember those Summer nights like it was yesterday…
*Me filming Kunle at Alife Sessions. Moby vs. Q Tip. Saturday August 18th 2007
One of my favorite memories of the backyard was in 2006. I hurried out of my job at Nike I.D. to A.R.C. for the afterparty Ari Sneaker Release afterparty. Luckily, my then roomate Kunle Martins aka Earsnot who worked at the shop, got me in despite the long line. That was the thing, being granted access back then often had nothing to do with fame or followers – it was about having real friends in the right places.
I have so many memories in this place and even more missed memories from not being around for some of its most legendary stories. Even though I’m sad for it’s closing, I also feel overwhelming gratitude for its existence. It was a wonderful meeting place for like-minded creatives, a hangout for the most cool and the home of so many wild New York nights. Thank you Alife.
*Me filming the short lived HOOD BY AIR with Shayne Oliver and Raul interviewing Angie Dutches of ALIFE at THE ALIFE STORE. 2008